MANILA – As part of its 47th Founding Anniversary celebration, the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) held a ceremonial vaccination of Filipino seafarers on Thursday, 17 June 2021. Fourteen (14) Filipino seafarers got their first jab of the Sinovac-CoronaVac vaccine at the AMOSUP Seamen’s Center. This was made possible through the offer made by Dr Conrado Oca, AMOSUP President to have the ceremonial vaccination done at the Seamen’s Center.

The Ceremonial Vaccination of Filipino Seafarers served as an avenue for the country’s seafarers to have themselves officially inoculated against COVID-19 before they go on to their voyage in the next couple of months. The 14 individuals were endorsed by their respective manning agencies in coordination with the Association of Licensed Manning Agencies (ALMA).

Seafarers, who travel for long periods of time and call ports all across the globe, were initially categorized under B3 or ‘Other Essential Workers’ and B5 or ‘Overseas Filipino Workers’ in the national vaccination priority framework. But with the recommendation of the Department of Transportation (DOTr), seafarers were placed under priority group A4 or ‘Frontline Personnel in Essential Sectors. and recently as A1.

Some of those in queue extended their gratitude and appreciation for Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade and the MARINO Partylist. One of the seafarers, a chief engineer who is scheduled to go on board this year, encouraged his fellow mariners to register for the vaccination program, which is usually administered by the local government units (LGUs). He also emphasized that this would significantly help to protect his family from potential infection as he is a frontliner.

Secretary Tugade had earlier described the maritime workforce as the ‘silent workers’ of the nation, as they keep the economy thriving. The move to reclassify seafarers to A4 was made possible by the Inter-Agency Working Group composed of the DOTr, MARINA, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ), and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) through its Maritime and Ocean Affairs, the Association of Licensed Manning Agencies Maritime Group, Joint Manning Group (JMG), Filipino Association for Mariner’s Employment (FAME), and the Philippine Association of Manning Agencies and Ship Managers (PAMAS) were also represented in the working group.

The Ceremonial Vaccination was witnessed virtually by Secretary Tugade, the MARINO Partylist, MARINA Administrator Ret Vice Admiral Robert A Empedrad, and STCWO Executive Director Ret Vice Admiral Rene V Medina.